Top 30 Bears for 2023: Two defenders and a rookie up next
Vincent Carchietta - USA Today Sports

Top 30 Bears for 2023: Two defenders and a rookie up next

by - Senior Writer -

As we continue through our rankings of the most important Bears players of 2023, we are getting close to cracking the top 20, as those will be viewed as the premium players on the team. Until we reach that point, we have more work to do, as today will cover players 24-22.

These players may or may not be day-one starters right away, but given the status of the Bears and their roster, they will most likely be starters at some point this season.

Most of the players on this list will be key contributors, but there is also a rookie that has been turning heads during camp:

24. Jack Sanborn

Entering his second season in the NFL, Sanborn was an undrafted pickup by the Bears last season and turned heads from the day he arrived in camp. You could argue this was one of the biggest steals from Ryan Poles last season, even if he is an undrafted pickup.

However, when you go back to his college tenure with the Wisconsin Badgers, Sanborn not only should have been drafted, but you could make a case that he could have been a fourth-rounder. He was always around the ball and seemed to be a playmaker every time he stepped on the field.

Following the Roquan Smith trade in November, Sanborn saw himself thrust into the MIKE linebacker role, where he thrived. In his first start against the Dolphins, Sanborn had seven solo tackles. The following week, he recorded 12 tackles and two sacks against the Lions. Sanborn showcased his elite instincts and solid tackling that brought consistency to the front seven. He had 48 solo tackles in six starts and was on pace to lead the league (had he started all 17 games). Look for him to earn a starting spot this season and be a massive piece in the middle of that defense.

23. Dominique Robinson

For a team in desperate need of getting after the QB, Robinson will be viewed as a critical piece on the defensive line this year. The 25-year-old is entering his second season under the Alan Williams system and could be on the verge of breaking out this season.

Robinson was drafted as the fifth-rounder in 22 and was immediately seen as a raw defensive talent. He changed positions twice in College but showed tons of potential as an EDGE rusher which is why Poles made the move to draft him. That was immediately evident in Week 1 when he totaled seven tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Bears’ win over the San Francisco 49ers. It would be his best outing of the season, with struggles coming later.

Despite that being his best overall game of the season, Robinson still played in all 17 games and showed plenty of flashes during that time. He finished the year with 30 tackles (two for loss) and 1.5 sacks while playing all 17 games. That experience will come in handy this season as he will be counted on to produce much more this season, along with Trevis Gipson. If that happens, look for the Bears pass rushing numbers to improve significantly, which they need.

22. Roschon Johnson

Perhaps the biggest X-factor on the team this season is that of RB Roschon Johnson. The backup to Top 10 pick Bijan Robinson, Johnson was primarily regarded as the top draft steal and would have been a starter on any team not named Texas. Even in a reserve role with the Longhorns, Robinson proved to be an effective running back in his senior year. Last season, Robinson had 93 carries for 554 yards — including 6.0 yards per carry.

He also added five touchdowns while coming away with 128 yards receiving on 14 catches and adding another TD. Outside of the numbers, Johnson was one of the most loved teammates in the locker room, which is why he was viewed as the leader of the Longhorns for four seasons.

While he didn’t get to show it, Johnson has three-down back potential. Playing behind a guy like Robinson will prevent you from showing that, but it also keeps you fresher going into the draft, which will also come in handy. The Bears got a steal in Johnson in the fourth round, and he should factor into the team’s rushing attack immediately as a rookie.

He will split carries with Khalil Herbert on day one as the Bears try to keep their potent rushing attack going. Look for him to fill the role that Khalil Herbert took on last season, but at the same time, don't be surprised if he finds a way to become the starter by the end of the season.

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